Gary Rowett: Derby County boss not fazed by Rams' reputation

By Owen PhillipsBBC Sport
Gary Rowett
Gary Rowett has been a Derby player and coach and is now their third full-time manager this season

Gary Rowett said his affinity for Derby County made the decision to become boss easy and he is not fazed by the club's reputation for sacking managers.

Owner Mel Morris has now had five different men in charge in 13 months, and during that turbulent spell he has sacked full-time bosses Paul Clement, Nigel Pearson and Steve McClaren.

"What has gone on previously is not a concern," Rowett, 43, said.

"I like a challenge. I embrace it. I don't expect it to be easy."

The former Rams player and academy coach was sacked by Derby's fellow Championship side Birmingham City in December last year when the Blues were only outside the play-off places on goal difference.

Rowett added: "It was important to be patient and wait for the right opportunity which challenged me in a different way. This job will do that. I'm excited.

"I have had an affinity with this club for a long time. I know how it works and that was a big thing for me."

Derby are 10th in the table and 10 points behind sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday following their 3-0 defeat against Brighton on Friday. The Rams have picked up just six points from their past nine matches and their play-off hopes appear to be over for another season.

"There is a lot of work to get back to the Premier League," Rowett said. "We have a lot of talented players and need to find the right balance for this division. I think I have an angle on what is required.

"We have had a meeting with the players and this is an open book for them and a clean slate for them to try to impress us. There is no specific remit; it is about trying to get success in a reasonable timeframe."

Player, coach, manager and free tickets

Gary Rowett
Gary Rowett took charge of his first training session on Tuesday morning

Ex-Burton Albion boss Rowett said his strong bond with the club he represented 120 times as a player in the late 1990s was a major factor in his decision to return.

"I came back here when I finished my career and coached for 18 months at the academy," he said. "I live close by but if it had been 200 miles I don't think it would have made a difference.

"The family are quite pleased. My son is happy because it means he doesn't have to pay for tickets!"

Rowett's backroom staff will consist of some familiar faces with assistant manager Kevin Summerfield, first-team coach Mark Sale and goalkeeping coach Kevin Poole joining him at Pride Park.

"We have worked together for five years and each one has a specific skill-set," Rowett said.

"We balance off each other well, which is important. There's a strong trust between us and they know exactly how I want to play and my methods. We have a really good group."

Joe Carnall, who worked with Rowett at Birmingham as head of performance analysis, has also joined - while current Derby first-team coach Kevin Phillips is remaining as part of the set-up.

Getting over the Blues

Rowett was in charge of Birmingham from October 2014 until he was sacked in December last year.

The Blues had just beaten Ipswich Town 2-1 and were only outside the top six on goal difference, but the club's Chinese owners replaced Rowett with Gianfranco Zola.

At the time, BBC WM's Richard Wilford said Rowett's departure felt like "a symptom of the modern game". He added: "In just over two years, Rowett took an inexpensively assembled squad to two top-half finishes in the Championship, and had them on the verge of the play-offs with the potential of money to spend in January."

Birmingham fan thanks Gary Rowett
Former manager Gary Rowett remains a popular figure at Birmingham

Under Zola, Birmingham have won only twice in 17 games in all competitions and are now just six points clear of the relegation zone.

Rowett said the chance to reflect and refresh following his dismissal had been hugely beneficial.

"Having the break from the last job to this has been brilliant," he said. "I have been able to really understand precisely how I want to take the next job on and some of the things I want to do better and things we want to maintain. It is always about reflection, digging deep inside yourself, and seeing what you want next.

"That time has been really good and I think I will be a much better manager for it. I think we did OK in a difficult league. Hopefully I will be more successful

"I never met the owners at Birmingham and I've met Mel so that is a start. I think it is important."

Delight at Derby and the delight of the derby

Rowett's first game sees the Rams face bitter rivals Nottingham Forest on Saturday, with the Reds also having appointed a new manager. Mark Warburton was named on Tuesday, hours after Rowett was confirmed,

It means it will be the fifth consecutive East Midlands derby with a different manager in charge of both clubs.

Forest-Derby graphic

Rowett said: "It's a great game. If you look at games you want to be involved in, what better way to start it off than a derby. The players won't need any motivation. I am really looking forward to it.

"We've had a really good training session this morning. The players were very enthusiastic and it was a good response from them - it was all really positive.

"I want the team performing in a way that the fans expect. I want to see skill and incisive attacking play, but I also want to instil some fundamental values on the pitch, like attitude and desire.

"If we do that, I think the fans will respond and support us all the way."

Rowett the 'right man at the right time'

Chief executive Sam Rush insisted Derby are a well-run club despite the managerial upheaval which has seen Paul Clement, Darren Wassall, Nigel Pearson and - the man Rowett is replacing - Steve McClaren all in charge since February 2016.

Rush said Rams fans were lucky to have Mel Morris as owner and chairman.

"Every appointment has been made with the best of intentions. It is not lost on us that there have been too many changes," he said.

"The club is a stable club - let's not forget that. We haven't got the managerial appointment right by definition, but we believe Gary is the right man at the right time and the fit is excellent.

Nigel Pearson
Nigel Pearson was in charge of Derby for less than five months

"He has been player and a coach and lives in the area. We are really excited about the future.

"Results have been very disappointing since the turn of the year. The opportunity was there and Gary was available. He has a tremendous track record and is highly regarded throughout football."

'New-age' boss is one of England's best

Former Derby County player and ex-Burton Albion manager Paul Peschisolido, who appointed Rowett as his assistant boss at the Brewers in 2009, told BBC Radio Derby that Rowett should go on to have great success.

"I can't say enough good things about Gary. He is one of these 'new-age' managers who can pretty much do everything. He is articulate, intelligent, constantly updating himself, reading books on psychology and is a forward-thinking manager. He is excellent with players one to one and collectively and he puts on some fantastic sessions.

Paul Peschisolido (right) and Gary Rowett
Gary Rowett succeeded former Rams striker Paul Peschisolido as Burton Albion manager

"I could sit here all day and say positive things about Gary because I think he is fantastic. I don't think there is a better manager in the country at getting the best out of players.

"I think we have underestimated the job he did at Birmingham; he had a squad nowhere near as good as he has got at Derby. They were comfortable and just outside the play-offs on goal difference and look what happened since he left. And he did a great job at Burton.

"He will be excited by the job because he has got a close affiliation with the club and knows what it is all about and sometimes that is important. It is important for supporters because when they see a face who has been there before they tend to be a bit more patient.

"For him the familiarity, knowing what supporters want and what the club is all about, can only go in his favour.

"Mel Morris wants results and he wants to see them fast, but I hope he gives Gary a chance because I think he is one of the top English managers in the country and he could go a heck of a long way, and I hope he is able to do it with Derby."

Full of passion and a people person

Gary Rowett
Gary Rowett...player, pundit, coach and manager

Former BBC Radio Derby County commentator Ross Fletcher recalls working alongside Gary Rowett when the pair covered Derby County during the 2008-09 season.

"We needed a new summariser and Gary had just retired after getting a chronic injury.

"He is bright, witty, enthusiastic and he has the respect of his peers and is a really good guy. Derby fans should be excited. He had pure passion for the game and that is why he has succeeded as a player, being a pundit and as a coach. He has earned it.

"He relished a challenge. He can deal with people in all walks of life. He has something there and that will be crucial to being successful."

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